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Headshot of Barbara Kurz, Associate Director of Messina
Barbara Kurz Director
Arkansas Tech University
Master of Science, College Student Development

Kansas State University
Bachelor of Arts, English Creative Writing
Minor in Leadership Studies

Barbara Kurz was born in Brazil but claims Kansas City as home. Barbara joined the Loyola community as the Associate Director of Messina in February 2022, and is now excited to serve as the Director of Messina. Prior to joining Loyola, Barbara served as the Assistant Director of Housing Facilities at Johns Hopkins University. Barbara has a strong background in Student Life, student development, and leadership development. Working with first year students has always been a passion for Barbara and she is thrilled to work with Messina students. Outside of work, Barbara enjoys being a “foodie” and trying out new restaurants with her partner, reading, and spending time with her dog, Ellie.
Sarah Lewis headshot
Sarah Lewis Associate Director
Loyola University Maryland
Data Science – Analytics, Micro-credential

Loyola University Maryland
Master of Arts, Liberal Studies

Winthrop University
Bachelor of Arts, Visual Arts
Minor in Mathematics

Originally and proudly from Baltimore, Sarah moved to Japan after completing her undergraduate degree in visual art, working as a JET Programme English teacher in the port city of Kobe from 2009 to 2014. After returning to the US, she came to Loyola as a program assistant supporting the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Messina, Pre-Health Programs, and National Fellowships, and also held the role of assistant director of Messina before becoming associate director in 2022. In spring 2023, she also completed an M.S. in Loyola's data science program. Outside of work, Sarah's hobbies include oil painting, playing chamber music, traveling, and being the personal paparazza of her rescue pups, Opal and Luna.
Patrick Murnane headshot
Patrick Murnane Assistant Director

Rowan University
Master of Arts, History

Salisbury University
Bachelor of Arts, History - Secondary Education

Patrick is a proud Maryland native and an avid baseball fan who co-runs a baseball podcast. Prior to joining the Messina team, Patrick started at Loyola in the Academic Advising and Support Center as an Advising Specialist. He graduated from Salisbury University with a degree in History and then earned his Masters in History at Rowan University in New Jersey. When not at work or at a baseball stadium, he loves to spend time with his wife, Colleen, and their dog, Griffey.

April Newton head shot
April Newton Faculty Co-Director

University of Maryland - College Park
PhD, Journalism Studies

Syracuse University
Master of Science, Broadcast Journalism

Northern Michigan University
Bachelor of Arts, Media Studies

April teaches journalism and mass communication courses for the Department of Communication. Her research primarily focuses on gender and journalism, and on media ethics. She has taught in Messina for the last four years.  In addition to being the faculty co-director of the program, she has also served as a Messina advisor and faculty member for the Ignatian Scholars Program and as the Common Text Fellow.  In addition to her Messina responsibilities, April will continue to teach and serve in the Communication Department. 



Headshot photo of Mike Puma
Michael Puma Dean of Undergraduate Studies
University of Maryland - College Park
Current Doctoral Student, Higher Education Administration

Syracuse University
Master of Science, Higher Education Administration

Fordham University
Bachelor of Science, Psychology and American Studies

Michael Puma was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and is a graduate of Fordham University (BS, Psychology & American Studies) and Syracuse University (MsEd, Higher Education). He is currently completing a doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration at the University of Maryland, College Park. He spent his first nine years at Loyola in the Office of Student Life serving as both an Assistant Director and Associate Director for Living-Learning Initiatives. In 2011, Puma was named the Student Development Director of Messina. As Director of Messina, he designed and implemented yearly training and professional development opportunities for over 200 faculty, administrators, staff members and student leaders. Additionally, organized programming associated with the first-year Common Text, facilitated academic support sessions for Summer Orientation and Fall Welcome Week and served as a resource for first-year advisors. In 2017, he was recognized as an Outstanding First-Year Advocate Award by the National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

In his role as Dean, Mike works closely with the Academic Advising and Support Center, The Study, and the academic components of Messina to help individual students in their formation during challenging times and to develop programs and practices that raise the academic success of all students. At Loyola, Mike has also served as president of Loyola's Phi Beta Kappa chapter and is a member of OUT Loyola - Loyola's LGBTQ group for faculty, staff and administrators. He also is a trained Loyola Safe Zone and Step Up! Bystander Intervention Facilitator and a member of the Strategic Plan steering committee.